Asian market helps Manulife and Sun Life in latest quarters

By Tara Deschamps


TORONTO _ Two of Canada’s largest insurance companies got lifts from the Asian market in their latest quarter.

Sun Life Financial Inc. said its overall net income surged 24 per cent to $719 million in its fourth quarter, with its Asian operations contributing $136 million, or nine per cent more than in the same period the year before.

The company also racked up $361 million in Asian insurance sales, a 44 per cent or $110-million increase compared to the same period in 2018. By contrast, insurance sales in Canada rose four per cent while U.S. sales were down four per cent.

The earnings come as Sun Life _ like many other insurers _ have been focused increasing attention on the Asian market. Sun Life recently formed a 15-year partnership with Tien Phong Commercial Bank in Vietnam, signed a distribution agreement with Nobu National Bank in Indonesia and also launched sales of sharia-based products with Bank Muamalat in the region.

Asia is highly under-penetrated for insurance so it’s really a distribution game, Neil Haynes, the company’s chief financial officer and senior vice-president of Sun Life Financial U.S.

“It’s not a pricing game in Asia, so we feel good about the profitability of our products and as the scale continues to come through, we are expecting to see this benefit of scale flowing through in our new business strain,” he said.

“Our bigger markets are Hong Kong and the Philippines and they’re both profitable markets. As we continue to build scale there in particular you would expect some of the benefits to come from there, in particular.”

Meanwhile, another Toronto-based insurance business, Manulife Financial Corp. shared that its earnings were also helped by opportunities in the continent.

The company boosted its quarterly dividend 12 per cent after it capped a stronger 2019 with double-digit growth in Asia.

Manulife said it would increase its payout by three cents per share to 28 cents, payable on or after March 19 to shareholders of record on Feb. 25. It added that it earned $1.23 billion for the three months ended Dec. 31, up from $593 million a year earlier.

Last year’s net income included a restructuring charge. Excluding one-time items, core earnings increased 10.5 per cent to $1.48 billion from $1.34 billion.

Those earnings came after Manulife launched in Vietnam and Cambodia its ManulifeMOVE program, which uses a mobile app and tracking devices to monitor how much consumers walk and offer them discounts on insurance plans based on their number of steps. It also debuted an online insurance platform in collaboration with DBS Bank for the Singapore market and enhanced its electronic claims platform in Hong Kong, Vietnam, and Japan, where it was hampered by lower new business volumes and changes to tax rules.

“Despite the headwinds in Japan…we were able to deliver a resilient five-per-cent core earnings growth in quarter four and 11 per cent for the full year,” said Anil Wadhwani, Manulife Asia’s president and chief executive on a Thursday call with analysts.

“We continue to see very strong momentum in geographies like Hong Kong…So despite some of the challenges….we’re pretty pleased with the resilient performance that we showed in Asia.”

Sun Life’s earnings equalled $1.22 per share in the three months ended Dec. 31, up from 96 cents per share or $580 million a year earlier. For the full year, its net income rose by 3.8 per cent to $2.62 billion.

Manulife earned 73 cents per diluted share up from 65 cents per share in the prior year and one cent below analyst forecasts, according to the financial markets data firm Refinitiv.

Sun Life Global Investments reduces risk rating for Sun Life Real Assets Fund

ORONTO, Feb. 13, 2020 /CNW/ – Sun Life Global Investments (Canada) Inc. (“Sun Life Global Investments,” “SLGI”) today announced a risk rating change for Sun Life Real Assets Fund. Effective immediately, the risk rating for this fund has been lowered from “medium” to “low to medium.”

In accordance with the investment risk classification methodology mandated by the Canadian Securities Administrators, Sun Life Global Investments reviews the risk ratings of its funds at least once a year, as well as when a fund undergoes a material change.

The Sun Life Real Assets Fund’s risk rating changed following an annual review that was conducted as part of Sun Life Global Investments’ ongoing fund review process. While the fund will be renamed to “Sun Life Real Assets Private Pool,” effective on or about February 26, 2020, the investment objectives and strategies of the fund remain unchanged.

About Sun Life Global Investments (Canada) Inc. 
Sun Life Global Investments is a subsidiary of Sun Life Financial Inc. It offers Canadians a diverse lineup of mutual funds and innovative portfolio solutions, empowering them to pursue their financial goals at every life stage. We bring together the strength of one of Canada’s most trusted names in financial services with some of the best asset managers from around the world to deliver a truly global investment platform. As of January 31, 2020, Sun Life Global Investments manages $29.68 billion on behalf of institutional and retail investors from coast-to-coast and is a member of the Sun Life group of companies. For more information visit or connect with us on Twitter @SLGI_Canada.

About Sun Life
Sun Life is a leading international financial services organization providing insurance, wealth and asset management solutions to individual and corporate Clients. Sun Life has operations in a number of markets worldwide, including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, India, China, Australia, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia and Bermuda. As of December 31, 2019, Sun Life had total assets under management of $1,099 billion. For more information, please visit

Sun Life Financial Inc. trades on the Toronto (TSX), New York (NYSE) and Philippine (PSE) stock exchanges under the ticker symbol SLF.

Note to editors: All figures in Canadian dollars

Commissions, trailing commissions, management fees and expenses all may be associated with mutual fund investments. Please read the prospectus before investing. Mutual funds are not guaranteed, their values change frequently and past performance may not be repeated.

© Sun Life Global Investments (Canada) Inc., 2020. Sun Life Global Investments (Canada) Inc. is a member of the Sun Life group of companies.

Media Relations Contact:
Alexandra Locke
Manager, Corporate Communications
T. 416-408-7357

SOURCE Sun Life Global Investments (Canada) Inc.

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Canadian Premier Life Insurance Company acquiring Gerber Life Canadian insurance business

TORONTO, Feb. 13, 2020 /CNW/ – Canadian Premier Life Insurance Company (‘Canadian Premier’) announces it has signed an agreement with U.S.-based Western & Southern Financial Group (‘Western & Southern’) to purchase its block of Canadian life insurance business, marketed under the Gerber Life brand. Closing of the purchase is expected to take place in the Second Quarter, 2020, subject to regulatory approval.

“This is an exciting acquisition for Canadian Premier as we focus on growing in the Canadian marketplace,” says Canadian Premier Chief Executive Officer Suzette Huovinen. “We are invested in Canada and in pursuing opportunities that expand our footprint beyond our core group creditor insurance business. Canadian Premier is well positioned to support the diverse market need for both life and specialized protection.”

The block of business from Western & Southern includes individual life insurance policies, primarily the Grow-Up® plan, which are whole life policies geared towards children 12 years of age and under. Upon closing, the Gerber Life Canadian policies will be fully assumed by Canadian Premier.

Adds Huovinen: “Canadian Premier is committed to providing financial security to families throughout moments that matter. We look forward to welcoming a new generation of customers to Canadian Premier and providing them excellent products and services.”

About Canadian Premier
For more than 60 years, Canadian Premier has been committed to providing financial security to Canadians and their families in the face of uncertainties. Canadian Premier offers group life, accident & sickness, credit and creditor insurance solutions to a number of leading financial institutions, retailers and affinity groups. We now insure over 2 million Canadians and families coast-to-coast. Canadian Premier is wholly-owned subsidiary of Securian Financial Group. For more information visit

SOURCE Canadian Premier Life Insurance Company

Sun Life fourth quarter profits surge 24 per cent to $719 million

TORONTO _ Sun Life Financial met expectations as its net income surged 24 per cent to $719 million in the fourth quarter.

The Toronto-based insurer says it earned $1.22 per share in the three months ended Dec. 31, up from 96 cents per share or $580 million a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items, underlying earnings grew 10.3 per cent to $792 million or $1.34 per share. That compared with $718 million or $1.19 per share in the fourth quarter of 2018.

For the full year, its net income rose 3.8 per cent to $2.62 billion.

Underlying profits rose to $3.6 billion or $5.16 per share, up from $2.95 billion or $4.86 per share in 2018.

The fourth-quarter and full-year results matched analyst forecasts, according to the financial markets data firm Refinitiv.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 12, 2020.

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Wife of late Palestinian terrorist can’t collect on life insurance policy

By Colin Perkel


TORONTO _ The wife of a notorious Palestinian terrorist who attacked an Israeli airliner has lost out on her bid to collect on her late husband’s life insurance because he failed to mention his unsavoury past when he took out the policy in 1987.

In overturning a lower court decision, the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled against Fadia Khalil Mohammad given the important omission on his original application.

“It is a principle of long-standing that an applicant for insurance has an obligation to reveal to the insurer any information that is material to the application,” the Appeal Court ruled.  “The deceased knew that his past activities were relevant.”

Mahmoud Mohammad Issa Mohammad, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, made international headlines in 1968 when he and an accomplice attacked an El Al commercial aircraft at the airport in Athens. They threw grenades and fired live rounds, killing one person and destroying the plane.

Mohammad was convicted in Greece of manslaughter and other offences but released after a hostage negotiation when other front members stormed another plane. He moved to Lebanon and then, under an alias, to Canada in 1987 and settled in Brantford, Ont.

After a publicized battle with immigration authorities, he was deported to Lebanon in 2013 and died from cancer in 2015. His wife, as sole beneficiary, sought to collect on the $75,000 policy issued decades earlier by the Manufacturers Life Insurance Company.

When he applied for the policy, Mohammad said he had just moved to Canada from Spain and provided a social insurance number, court records show. The application, however, did not ask about his citizenship or residency status, or any convictions. He made no mention of his nefarious past.

Khalil argued successfully before Superior Court last May that she should get the money. Justice Shaun O’Brien ruled that her late husband had not misrepresented his immigration status or failed to provide significant information about himself, because the insurance company had simply not asked those questions on the application form.

Manufacturers appealed, arguing O’Brien was wrong. The company maintained that Mohammad’s failure to disclose material facts had voided the policy. It relied on a clause that stated the company required “complete and accurate answers” and that it could deny a claim if any answers were wrong.

The Appeal Court agreed with Manufacturers, pointing out that insurance legislation requires applicants to disclose all facts material to the insurance.

“The past actions of the deceased were material to the risk that he posed for the purpose of having his life insured,” the Appeal Court found. “There is no suggestion that (Manufacturers) ought to have known that the information related to the deceased’s past existed, and therefore cannot be faulted for not having inquired into it.”

The higher court noted that shortly after applying for the insurance, Mohammad himself argued his life would be in danger if deported to Israel. The upshot, the court said, was that he had intentionally hidden his past activities from Manufacturers, just as he had done with the federal government when came to Canada.

“Our conclusion that the deceased intentionally withheld this information is sufficient to establish fraud,” the Appeal Court said.

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